My Little Mirror

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Albert Einstein

So over the past couple weeks I have been blathering on about “D&D this” and “writing that” and I wanted to just check in and update about what is going on in my son’s life, and how it is affecting our, his parents, lives. He is still very young, but he is at the stage in development where he is absorbing everything and trying very hard to learn everything he can in order to survive and thrive.

My son, Anthony, is a very ticklish baby and when we play with him, it is very fun for everyone to tickle him and listen to him laugh. We gently chew on his sides or kiss his neck and this just sends him into laughing/screeching hysterics. Just recently, at the time of writing this article, I noticed Anthony started doing something highly unexpected; he started tickling back. It was amazing and scary to realize that he is such a reflection of his surroundings. He lays on my chest and looks at me, then buries his face into my chest and growls, shaking his head back and forth. He then abruptly stops and look at me to see if I was laughing.

This floored me; I had a hunch about what he was doing, so I threw a few fake laughs out there to see if he responds to them. HE DID! So here is this little guy who only a couple weeks ago just realized that there are “flesh planks” at the end of his legs, and that those are the best chew toys ever, to now starting to learn and understand the massive concept of happiness and fun.

I got to thinking more about this, and that’s when it hit me, this guy is absorbing everything. How I talk, how I treat others, how I treat myself, what my social norms are...everything. That’s the moment when I started getting scared about the examples I am setting. It is not because I think that I am a bad person or anything, but that this kid has no context to life or society outside of his immediate family. Being mindful is something that I have worked on on and off again through the years, and let’s just say I’m not the best at it. Now it is my job to be mindful that this kid has no context of a hard day at work and the need to decompress, or my drive/want to read, absorb, and create as much story as I possibly can. All he sees is a guy on his phone or on his laptop who isn’t paying attention to him.  A guy who isn’t, at that moment, picking him up or scooting with him on the ground (in my defence I do these things but the point I am trying to make is that I’m not constantly doing these things when I’m home).

It isn’t practical, in my opinion, to think that I must spend every moment of his waking life engaged with him; that is exhausting. But, I still feel guilty for not spending every waking moment of his life engaged with him, so I happily take on this life of exhaustion. This whole epiphany that I’ve had has made me start to questions my use of electronics for things like social media or games. It is so easy to be a thousand miles away in virtual space and not to be social with someone that is physically close. The fact of the matter is that I am not always mindful of what I am doing when I am around Anthony and I fear I will miss the important stuff or worse he will learn my bad habits. I feel that having the internet so available has become an addiction of sorts. “What is Anthony learning from this” is what I ask myself when I realize I am thumbing around on my phone. So I try to recognize the situation and then involve him in what I am doing or pick up something else to do with him.

Usually I will read to him, as currently that is a really good way for me to help develop Anthony’s communication, listening, and other skills. So in an effort to have my cake and eat it too, I have taken to the words of Einstein, and read him lots of fantasy books. I have read to him bits and pieces of R.A. Salvatore's work, mostly his Legend of Drizzt books. Anthony loves these books. He like the colors used on the covers of the books, loves the one on one time he gets with me, and loves the voices I do while reading. I think currently he likes Bruenor Battlehammer’s low and gravelly voice the most. Anthony will screech and giggle when I start reading to him and after about 30 minutes to an hour, if he isn’t crabby and lost interest, then he is usually falls asleep in my lap.

I love working with him on his coordination and crawling. Currently he propping himself up great, but those elusive legs just are not cooperating for him yet. So we work on trying to crawl to mom or, more interesting to him, the cat. He works on his rolling and on finding all the things in the carpet that the vacuum missed.

It is these moments that I find myself remembering out of my day when I lay in bed. Not about the time that I spent reading garbage on the internet. So it is my goal to reduce my time to electronics around my son and increase interaction time, to mindfully unwind and unplug while spending time with my son. I understand that it is a long road to recovery but if I stay persistant I think I can get there.

Thanks for reading! Check back in next week as I dive into story creation and my process for piecing together a RPG campaign. Remember to follow The DM’s Table on Facebook or on Twitter @dmstable for any big announcements and updates. Thank you for reading.

-- The DM